Review: Gossip

I love gossip, it lightens the otherwise tedious grind of over-emoting about psychologically decrepit Italian men and writing about tourist destinations. Until recently, I was convinced that men don’t enjoy gossip, for the same reason that they don’t share ice cream out of the same tub or compliment each other on their clothes – it contravenes the international code of heterosexuality. Actually, I was wrong. Given the slightest opportunity, men gossip like wolves.

Much gossip-worthy material flows forth from my colleague’s stupid girlfriend, who has the face of an angel and the brain of a very chatty slug. (Reader! In your opinion, would impersonating an idiot help me have a more successful and fulfilling love life?) We eye her beadily from behind our desks, waiting for her to do something ridiculous so we can pounce on it and pick it apart later. There’s a fine line between gossip and bitching, but we don’t care. Occasionally I am wracked by guilt. I feel the Gossip Sword of Damocles hanging over my head: not a day passes in which I don’t do something so stupid that I’m almost suicidal with embarrassment, and the thought that people will be analysing my faux pas with as much relish as I’ve lavished on theirs is deeply troubling.

I am reading a history of Africa, and it claims that something like 80% of human chat is about people who are not present during the conversation. This was useful when we lived in small forest tribes and scavenged elephant carcasses, but maybe it’s outlived its relevance. Gossip may well be an evolutionary hangover that we should have recovered from by now, like male nipples, double-jointed elbows and long-term relationships.

Gossip: Somewhere between a hobby and a religious practice. Happy Ramadan! 7 out of 10.